Monday, January 30, 2012

Sights and Sounds :: Bringing You the Roar and the Thunder, the Filth and the Fury & the Noise and the Nerd Funk of B-Fest 2012.

Photos courtesy of Bill Rinehart, Stephanie Romanski,
Mike Bockoven, & Yours Truly.

Alas, B-Fest 2012 has come and gone and entered the history books. For those who don't know, B-Fest is an annual event held at Northwestern University, where 200 or so like-minded individuals on Fractured Flickers ensconce themselves in a theater for 24-straight hours of mind-melting and butt-destroying Cinematic Cheese in what boils down to nothing short of B-Movie Thunderdome -- don't believe me? Then you try sitting through Ted V. Mikels, Andy Milligan and Don Dohler in one sitting and see if no one gets killed ... But seriously. Total gas as always, folks. Looking forward to doing it again already at B-Fest 2013. Until then, see and smell ya in the aisles, my friends...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Moments of Pure Cinema Fusion :: The Major Rides Alone in William Wyler's The Big Country (1958)

By definition, nuclear fusion is the process by which multiple like-charged atomic particles join together to form a heavier nucleus -- usually accompanied by the release of a massive amount of energy, depending on the elements involved. Applying that theory to film, there are certain moments in certain movies when the direction, cinematography, acting, editing, and soundtrack collide and merge into something I like to call Moments of Pure Cinema Fusion.

As the old joke goes, The Big Country proves just that since William Wyler was bound and determined to show us every. damned. square. inch. of it. Don't get me wrong, I love the movie. I love how Burl Ives steals it. I love how Chuck Connors almost steals it. I love Carrol Bakker and Jean Simmons natural beauty against that wide-open backdrop. And Jerome Moross' score ... well, that's just gravy. A kind of gravy that would make you consume your own head if it was covered in it. Case in point, here, as we barrel toward the climax in Blanco Canyon, with the feud between the Terrils and the Hannassey's about to explode in a hail of lead, after a sufficient lead in where reason is chucked clean out the window, things start to percolate around the 1:45 minute mark, and then reach a boil at about 2:45, with total fusion achieved at 3:07:

Video courtesy of le0pard13.

I swear, that look between Heston and Bickford could have vaporized glacial ice. Like I said. Love this movie!

Credit where credit is due: Directed by William Wyler; story by James R. Webb, Sy Bartlett, Robert Wilder; cinematography by Franz Planer; editing by Robert Belcher, John Faure; music by Jerome Moross; starring Charlton Heston, Charles Bickford.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Vintage Review Spotlight :: Charles B. Pierce's The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)

Back in the summer of 1971 it was a slow news day at the offices of the Texarkana Gazette and Daily News, when reporter Jim Powell received a phone call from his friend, Dave Hall. Hall was the news director at Texarkana's KTFS radio station, who had received word that something strange was going on up the road a ways in the little town of Fouke, Arkansas. With nothing else to cover, after both newsmen made their way to Fouke, the news trail led them to Bob Ford's house, where he and his family were quickly packing all their belongings into a U-Haul, determined to vacate the area as soon as possible. Obviously, the family was scared. But why? Well, seems that the night before, some thing had come out of the swamp and attacked them!

Powell went on to report that while Ford was out hunting, he was drawn back to the house because of his wife's sudden cries for help. Moving quickly, he arrived in time to take a few shots at a large, hairy creature, with "eyes as big as silver dollars that burned coal red" prowling around the yard, driving it off into the trees. But the creature kept coming back, and this time it tried to break into the house until Ford, despite injuries received battling the creature, including crashing through a door to escape it, managed to drive the creature away again. Abandoning the house, the family took him to a hospital in Texarkana, where he was treated for shock and abrasions. The next day, the only evidence found around the house were some strange footprints and a few broken off saplings. Ford swears he hit the creature, several times, but no evidence of blood was found. The reporter didn't know if he believed the fantastic story, but Powell wrote it up and filed it anyway. Amazingly enough, both the AP and UPI wire services picked up the newsflash and the tale of "The Fouke Monster" soon became a national sensation, and the little town of Fouke was soon overrun with monster hunters, hoping to catch a glimpse of America's newest folk legend. But like its cousin, the Sasquatch, the creature remained maddeningly elusive.

Now, the attack on the Ford family wasn't the first appearance of this strange creature. No. There had been sightings of the beast as far back as 1940; walking along the creek bed here, crossing the road there, slaughtering a few pigs now and again, and at least one documented case of the thing attacking someone while they were taking a crap in an outhouse. Some say it's all a hoax. Others say it's a gorilla that escaped from a derailed circus train. Who knows for sure. But sometimes, usually at night, something big and hairy crawls out of the wetlands along the Boggy Creek and prowls the house-trailers and shot-gun shacks of Fouke, growling and shrieking and making a general nuisance of itself.

One individual who wanted to cash-in on and exploit this new phenomenon was Texarkana's very own entrepreneur, Charles B. "Chuck" Pierce. Pierce was an advertising pitchman by trade, and once the bug bit him, in true independent filmmaking fashion, borrowed money from a friend's trucking company, commandeered an old camera, formed a crew out of mostly high school students, and then set out to make a movie about the creature, Tracking the Fouke Monster. Implementing a documentary style of filmmaking, and using eye-witness testimonials as the basis for his narrative, Pierce added an air of authenticity by having the locals narrate the dramatic reenactments of their harrowing encounters with some truly fascinating results. To read the rest of the review, click here.

The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) P&L Productions :: Howco International Pictures / EP: L.W. Ledwell / P: Charles B. Pierce / AP: Earl E. Smith / D: Charles B. Pierce / W: Earl E. Smith / C: Charles B. Pierce / E: Tom Boutross / M: Jaime Mendoza-Nava / S: Vern Stierman, Chuck Pierce Jr., William Stumpp, Willie E. Smith, John P. Hixon, Louise Searcy

Monday, January 16, 2012

Netflix'd :: Clearing Out the Instant Que :: Lets Have a Smashing Prison Riot, Eh Wot?

After taking a long walk alone, young Ann Turner (Ireland) heads to the local teen hang-out to watch her new beau, Tommy, front his band for an appreciative crowd. Unfortunately, Tommy (Charlesworth) is the ex-boyfriend of Lucy (Britton), who just barely got away with robbing the mansion she used to work at as a maid. Caught in the act by the butler, Lucy's accomplice, Claire (Swanson), manages to bop Jeeves on the back of the head -- but not before he recognized Lucy.

Knowing it's only a matter of time before the heat catches up to her, then, Lucy gives the majority of the stolen jewels to her accomplice, whom the butler never saw, for safekeeping, except for one piece, which she sneakily dumps into Ann's coat pocket. See, the conniving little shit's plan is two fold: first, by implicating Ann, Claire will stay in the clear and the loot will be waiting for Lucy once she's served her time. And second, this will show that uppity Ann what happens to anyone who would dare steal a man from her. And so, fingered by Lucy, coupled with the police finding the diamond bracelet in her coat, with no alibi, poor Ann is probably regretting that solitary walk right about now.

Once Ann is sentenced to three years at the Wilsham Reformatory School for girls, So Evil, So Young doesn't stray a whole lot from the standard good girl gone bad formula. In short order, Ann has a bulls-eye painted on her back by the head guard, Smith (Pollock), a combination of Nurse Ratchet and Evelyn Harper, who prefers the stick over the carrot when dealing with her charges. Of course, then, the head matron is a reformer, who takes a liking to Ann but won't believe her wild story about being framed. And with Smithy on one end of the stick, and Lucy on the other, a familiar figure at Wilsham, with plenty of friends already on the inside, life is hell for poor Ann, who always gets caught finishing the dust-ups her adversary starts, landing her in solitary.

Luckily, Ann finds a friend with an older prisoner, Mary (Whittingham), who is up for parole soon. And with her help, Ann soon learns the rules -- the most important one to never snitch on a fellow inmate for anything. Alas, to celebrate that impending parole, the dormitory decides to hold a clandestine going away party but are caught in the act by Smithy. Told this will probably derail her parole, the distraught Mary hangs herself. That's the last straw for several inmates, giving us our required riot as Lucy leads the charge to beat the hell out of Smithy, whom the girls blame for Mary's death. Only Ann abstains, going so far as to free another matron taking hostage during the chaos that is eventually curbed.

Once order is restored, Ann refuses to name the ringleaders, earning the respect of several others, including one inmate who has proof that Lucy framed her for the robbery. Armed with that information, Ann engineers a jailbreak to get that crucial evidence to Tom and her father, who were already on Claire's trail, namely the obscene amount of money she's been throwing around town. Will she succeed? Will the battered but ever watchful Smithy catch her in the act? Or will Lucy once more screw her over and rat her out?

So Evil, So Young wasn't breaking any new ground for the production tandem of Edward and Harry Lee Danziger. Basically, the film is a remake of the Danziger's So Young, So Bad; a balls-out screed on the horrors of what happens behind the walls of a girl's reformatory. Walls that Paul Heinreid did his best to tear down. Walls that contained the likes of Anne Francis and Rita Moreno in their big screen debuts getting blasted by a fire-hose when they chose to riot. And though there are no fire-hoses here, there still isn't anything that any genre veteran hasn't seen before, story wise. But, when you chuck in that British technicolor and temperament, and that crazily canned, xylophone-heavy spaz-jazz soundtrack, it gives this film such a prim and proper weirdness, subbing in for the usual sleaze, one can only giggle at all the cat-fights and boggle at one of the nicest prison riots you'll ever encounter, making So Evil, So Young a total scream. So, by all means, check it out as soon as possible.

So Evil, So Young (1961) Danziger Productions Ltd. :: United Artists / P: Edward J. Danziger, Harry Lee Danziger / AP: Brian Taylor / D: Godfrey Grayson / W: Mark Grantham / C: James Wilson / E: Desmond Saunders / M: Tony Crombie, Bill LeSage / S: Jill Ireland, Jocelyn Britton, John Charlesworth, Ellen Pollock, Sheila Whittingham, Bernice Swanson

Friday, January 13, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Meme Leech :: Thee Better Late than Never New Year's Quiz-O-Rama!

By all standards and practices, for me, at least, 2011 was pretty damned odious as far as 365 consecutive days go. But, there were a few bright spots scattered hinter and yon, one of them was discovering the musings of The Girl with the White Parasol, via a couple of participated Blogathons. It's always a good read, and now, they've thrown out their first meme. And so, in an effort to give 2011 the middle finger in the rear-view mirror, here are my better late than never answers to TGwtWP's New Year's Movie Meme:

1. What is your all-time favorite Grace Kelly costume?

Though I love this little sleeveless number from the same movie:

There's just something about this simple outfit that wraps-up Rear Window that fogs my glasses up and over completely:

Denim never looked so good, am I right? But, lets face it, she could make a burlap sack look good.

2. What classic film would you nominate for a remake?

I've trumpeted this before and I shall continue to blow hot air until it happens. Directed by Joe Dante; written by John Sayles; produced by Jon Davidson; with a combination of CGI and practical F/X by the late Stan Winston's company. Also, like the original, NOT in 3-D.

3. Name your favorite femme fatale.

Hrrrmmnnn ... that's a tough one, with lots to choose from. I mean, I love the venomous, spiteful and completely whackadoodle Ann Savage in Detour:

And Cathy O'Donnell always breaks my heart in They Live By Night:

But, I'm only deluding myself if I don't give a most deserving nod to Peggy Cummins for Gun Crazy:

4. Name the best movie with the word "heaven" in its title.

5. Describe the worst performance by a child actor that you’ve ever seen:

Eddie "Munster" Furlong is about 98.5% of the reason I give when people look at me incredulously and splutter, "Waitaminute ... You hated Terminator 2? Really? Why?" Even with Linda Hamilton completely spitting the bit as Sarah Connor, and Cocksure Cameron at his absolute worst, that kid just junks the movie and sunk the whole damned franchise for me.

6. Who gets your vote for most tragic movie monster?

7. What is the one Western that you would recommend to anybody?

Right before Henry Hathaway made the original True Grit, he made an offbeat and off the wall western-mystery hybrid called 5 Card Stud. On the surface a vehicle for Rat Pack booze-crooner Dean Martin, the film is a surprisingly violent and broody affair. It also serves as kind of a proto-slasher movie (-- I'm serious), when an unknown killer starts wiping out a group of men who share a sinister secret they'd like to keep buried in the past. (Again, totally serious. More details here.) And if nothing else, you'll get to see Robert Mitchum behind the pulpit again, bringing the fire and the brimstone and the lead to the unrepentant.

8. Who is your ideal movie-viewing partner?

My cat. She doesn't judge -- my viewing habits or the habitual viewing. Yeah, more into solitude, but also enjoy a crowd now and then -- if they're tuned in properly, depending on the circumstances or venue.

9. Has a film ever made you want to change your life? If so, what was the film?

When I caught a matinee of this when I was six or seven years old back in the mid-1970's, all thoughts of being a fireman or a cowboy dried up as I decided, then and there, that I was gonna be a special-effects animator in Hollywood when I grew up. How I wound up here instead of there is still a subject of much conjecture, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. But, between this and an early screening of William Castle's The Spirit is Willing, my love for genre films was cemented and I haven't really been the same since.

10. Think of one performer that you truly love. Now think of one scene/movie/performance of theirs that is too uncomfortable for you to watch.

At first, Bill Murray popped into mind (-- yes, I'm thinking about you
What About Bob?), but then I reconsidered and decided to go with someone else. For how bad does a movie have to be that stars Kurt Russell as the illegitimate son of Elvis Presley in a no holds barred actioneer shoot 'em up before I compare it to a sucking chest wound gone septic? This bad:

11. On the flip side, think of one really good scene/performance/movie from a performer that you truly loathe.

I don't know if loathe is the right word but I used to have an irrational hatred of Kim Basinger that I think began with a disastrous screening of Nadine. This opinion held fast and firm until the spell was broken by L.A. Confidential.

12. And finally, since it will be New Year's soon, do you have any movie or blogging-related resolutions for 2012?

Well, I fear that I have really over-extended myself this past year. Raiders of the Lost Archive was founded with good intentions but was practically still-born and is a few days away from permanent extinction as all of the content will be shifted over here to free up space for our new Poster Archive. Alas, I don't think that's gonna be enough as I'd like to narrow my focus even more, meaning a tough, tough decision on The Morgue needs to be made sooner than later. Don't worry, that one will be staying up for archiving purposes, and for those of you needing your classic movie ad fix, again, I'll definitely be making them a regular feature here. Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ephemera :: Behind the Scenes :: Hail and Happy Birthday to the King!

Robert Wagner, Elvis Presley and Alan Hale Jr. lounge around the 20th Century Fox commissary circa October, 1956 ... And we'll throw in this live performance of American Trilogy for desert:

You're welcome.
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